Carotid Atherosclerotic Disease

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Carotid atherosclerotic disease occurs when the main blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain become narrowed, reducing the flow of oxygen to the brain. The specialists at Houston Methodist use the newest and most effective treatments to help remove blockage.

Carotid atherosclerotic disease experts at Houston Methodist combine decades of expertise with leading-edge research to diagnose and treat this complex disease, which is a major risk factor for stroke

Through advanced medical and surgical techniques, we can help reduce plaque buildup in the arteries that deliver blood to your brain. Here, you will find the latest treatment options, including clinical trial therapies that are not widely available at other centers.    

Diagnosing & Treating Carotid Atherosclerotic Disease

How is carotid atherosclerotic disease diagnosed?

Patients with carotid artery disease often don’t show any symptoms until the arteries have narrowed enough to reduce the blood flow to the brain. The first symptoms may occur during a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, also known as transient ischemic attack or stroke, and may include: 

  • Clumsiness or poor coordination
  • Confusion 
  • Dizziness or fainting 
  • Headache 
  • Numbness in the face, arm or leg
  • Paralysis, or suddenly being unable to move an arm, leg or one side of the body 
  • Sudden weakness on one side of the body
  • Temporary blurred vision or vision loss 
  • Unclear or slurred speech 

After a discussion of your symptoms and a physical exam, your neurologist may recommend several tests to help determine whether you have carotid atherosclerosis disease or early signs of stroke. Tests and exams may include: 


  • Cerebral angiogram
  • CTA and CT scans
  • Duplex or Doppler ultrasound  
  • MRA and MRI 

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of carotid atherosclerotic disease and usually progresses at a slow pace. Several risk factors have been identified, including:


  • Age 
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes 
  • Obesity
  • High-fat diet 
  • Lack of exercise 
  • Alcohol or drug abuse 
  • Family history and genetic factors
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) 
  • Hyperlipidemia, or elevated fats in the blood 
  • Excessive alcohol consumption 

This condition is also called carotid atherosclerotic stenosis, carotid artery disease or hardening of the arteries. Using your results, we will develop a personalized treatment plan to control disease progression and improve your quality of life. 

What treatments are available?

Your team of specialists will develop a personalized treatment plan based on the degree of your carotid artery stenosis (narrowing), your symptoms and your overall health.

Treatments may include: 


  • Carotid endarterectomy 
  • Angioplasty  
  • Stenting 

What if I need advanced care or a second opinion?

Whether you need a precise diagnosis or a second opinion, we can help. Our specialists can pinpoint the cause of your symptoms and design a personalized treatment plan to restore your quality of life.

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Clinical trials can provide hope for patients who have not had success with standard or “best known” treatments.
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